Silicone elastomers are becoming more and more prominent in a number of different industries, however, for those who are not in ‘the know’ it’s gone widely unnoticed.
The case for this highly adaptable material has grown over recent years and is now a stable material for many components which were previously made from other more expensive, less reliable materials.
Who Came Up With Silicone Elastomers?
The first Silicone Elastomers were developed in the search for better insulating materials for electric motors and generators.
That’s when chemists at Corning Glass in Massachusetts and General Electric came up the first silicone polymers. After they successfully demonstrated they worked well, the next step was to produce it commercially.
It was then when Corning Glass, in a joint venture with Dow Chemical formed Dow Corning in 1943 to produce this new class of materials.
Since then, Silicone Elastomers have found their way into more and more industries and in recent years, 3 in particular, have embraced this versatile material for use in advanced engineering.
Due to silicone elastomers having minimal reaction to the human body’s chemistry and adverse effects on these sensitive areas they make the perfect material for components for certain medical devices.
These range from more simple external uses, such as tubing, onto the more advanced like medical implants and eye lenses.
As automobiles have become more performance driven, engine compartment temperatures have risen also. Silicone elastomers now offer much higher resistance to temperature and aging making them a perfect option for components in your car.
For example, if you owned a car pre-1990’s, the chances are the exhaust was held in place by a simple metal hook. (A design that hadn’t been changed for years). In modern cars, it’s more likely to have been replaced with a silicone rubber replacement.
The main reason for this is that they are electrically insulating, fire resistant and offer a broad range of operating temperatures which makes them highly suited for usually hostile environments of engineering such as aviation, space and oil exploration sectors.
The futures looking bright according to a report published by Smithers Rapra indicating that the global market for silicone elastomers is expected to grow to around 558 thousand tonnes in 2021, increasing the annual growth fate to of 6.1%.
And as 2021 approaches it’ll be interesting to see if the figures will be exceeded beyond expectations.